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Putin Divorce Final; Ex-Wife Expunged From Kremlin Bio

Vladimir Putin and Lyudmila arrive at a polling station in Moscow, Russia, in a March 2012 photo.
Alexander Zemlianichenko
Vladimir Putin and Lyudmila arrive at a polling station in Moscow, Russia, in a March 2012 photo.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife of 30 years, Lyudmila, are now divorced, the Kremlin confirmed Wednesday.

The divorce was finalized months after the couple announced on national television in June that they intended to end the marriage. At the time, Putin said: "It was a joint decision: we hardly see each other, each of us has our own life." She called the divorce "civilized" and added that the two would always remain close.

As recently as last week, the Russian leader's official biography still listed him as married. On Tuesday, however, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying references to Lyudmila have been removed from Putin's bio on the Kremlin website, adding "this means that the divorce has taken place."

The Moscow Times says: "The president's official biography that previously mentioned his wife, Lyudmila, now only lists their daughters Maria, 28, and Yekaterina, 27. However, a longer description of the president's life on another page of the Kremlin website still has a section devoted to his ex-wife, with no mention of the divorce."

Reuters notes that Putin, an ex-KGB spy "keeps his personal life private and little is known about his wife and two daughters, both in their 20s."

The news agency says:

"In 2008, Putin said there was no truth to a newspaper report that he was preparing to marry Olympic rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabayeva, who was born in 1983, the same year he married Lyudmila."

Kabayeva was among the torchbearers at the opening of the Sochi Winter Games in February, "rekindling speculation that she was a favourite of the Russian leader," the BBC says.

The Times reports that some Russians have expressed concern that removing Lyudmila from his official biography amounted to a Soviet-style attempt to rewrite history.

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.

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